Defeat of the Polish army at Szczekocin and Chelm

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Defeat of the Polish army at Szczekocin and Chelm
Thomas J. Barker. “Attack of Russian cuirassiers on rebel positions” (1872)


Battle of Szczekociny


All attempts by Generalissimo Kosciuszko to create a combat-ready army (Warsaw Matins) came across Polish reality: the peasants did not want to fight for the lords, and the lords did not want to donate their capital, they cared about their homeland more in words than in deeds. Kosciuszko's progressive measures were sabotaged by the nobility and clergy.



The initiative passed to Poland's opponents. On the Russian side, for actions against Kosciuszko there were detachments located near Radom, Łowicz and against Rawa. Part of the troops was preparing to pacify Lithuania, Saltykov’s corps covered the western border of the empire. Suvorov's detachment was approaching from the south. Austria was gathering troops in Galicia.

A 54-strong Prussian army entered Poland under the personal leadership of King Frederick William II. The Prussians did not want to fight with the Poles; they left this mission to the Russians, but wanted to capture as much territory as possible in order to have a decisive vote in the new division of Poland.

Kosciuszko with a 15-strong army tried to prevent the connection of individual Russian detachments under the command of Denisov, Khrushchev and Rakhmanov with the Prussian army. But Denisov’s detachment united with the Prussians and, going on the offensive, near the village of Shchekociny (on the Pilica River, 70 km from Krakow) on May 26 (June 6), 1794, inflicted defeat on Kosciuszko.


Michal Stachovich "Battle of Szczekocin"

A significant part of the Polish army was made up of Polish peasants armed with straightened scythes - cosigners, who, with the support of regular formations, repelled the onslaught of Prussian troops. The Poles tried to launch a counteroffensive, but were repelled by artillery. Meanwhile, the Don Cossacks overthrew the Polish lancers and captured 16 cannons. The defeated Polish troops retreated. Polish losses - about 1 people, allies - about 700.

Fyodor Denisov was an experienced commander and came from the Don Cossacks. He distinguished himself in the Russian-Turkish War of 1768–1774. In the battle of Larga, he killed seven Turkish soldiers and was promoted to officer. Legends were made about his bravery, and the nickname “Denis Pasha” terrified the Turks. Denisov also distinguished himself during the suppression of the uprising of the Crimean Tatars, as well as during the second Turkish war. Denisov covered himself with glory in the war with Sweden. In a number of battles, he received numerous wounds while personally attacking the enemy. He told the empress: “Courage opens wide gates to victory.” He also had experience of the war in Poland, during the Bar Confederation.


Military Encyclopedia / Ed. V. F. Novitsky and others. St. Petersburg: I. V. Sytin Company, 1911–1915.

Battle of Chelm


During the same period, the Russian army defeated the Polish rebels near Chelm. The Polish 8-strong corps under the command of Major General J. Zajonczek was sent by Kosciuszko to the Western Bug River with the task of defending the Lublin Voivodeship and preventing Russian troops from crossing the river.

It must be said that Józef Zajonczek (1752–1826) had a very rich biography. Member of the Bar Confederation, served in the French army, then in the Polish. As a supporter of the pro-Russian party of Hetman F. Branitsky in 1788, he participated in the siege of the Turkish fortress of Ochakov by the Russian army. In 1790, Zajoncek was elected as a deputy from Podolsk Voivodeship to the Four-Year Sejm. While working in the Sejm, he left Branicki's group, joining the patriotic reformist party. He supported the idea of ​​peasant reform, army reform and the adoption of a constitution.

Participant in the Russian-Polish War of 1792. After the defeat he emigrated, where he took part in the preparation and organization of the Polish uprising. After Kosciuszko's capture, Zajonczek briefly served as commander-in-chief of the rebel forces. After the defeat of the uprising, he entered the French army and became a participant in all of Napoleon's campaigns. During the Russian campaign of 1812, he will lose his leg and be captured. In 1815, Emperor Alexander Pavlovich appointed him first governor of the Kingdom of Poland (1815–1826).

After several skirmishes, Zajoncek retreated to Helm. Following him was a 16-strong Russian corps under the command of Vilim Derfelden. This was one of the most prominent Russian commanders, a comrade-in-arms of Suvorov. Alexander Vasilyevich always spoke flatteringly about his comrade.

On May 28 (June 8) a battle took place near Chelm between Russian and Polish troops. The Russians swept away the enemy's right flank, the cosigners and militia fled. To avoid complete defeat, the Polish corps retreated. The Poles lost about 2 thousand people, the Russians - more than 200.


Cosigners in 1794. Drawing by Michal Stachowicz (early XNUMXth century)

Siege of Warsaw


On June 15, Prussian troops occupied Krakow. The Prussian army moved towards Warsaw. To capture the Polish capital, the Prussians deployed 25 thousand soldiers with 179 guns under the command of King Frederick William II himself. The Prussians were supported by a Russian corps of 13 with 74 guns under the command of Ivan Fersen.

But Kosciuszko pulled together large forces to the capital: a field army (17 thousand regular troops and 18 thousand cosigners), which united with the garrison (3 thousand) and the city militia (up to 15 thousand). They were able to prepare Warsaw for defense: field fortifications were erected on the outskirts of the city and more than 400 guns were deployed.

On July 13, the siege began and lasted about two months. The besiegers waited for the arrival of heavy artillery. The first attack on the western suburb of Warsaw, Wola, took place only on July 27. It was repelled by the troops of General J. Zayonchek and Prince J. Poniatowski. In August the Prussians tried to attack again, but without much success.

As a result, the Prussians, after standing near Warsaw for a couple of months, left without deciding to make a decisive assault. In addition, a guerrilla war began in their rear. An uprising broke out in Greater Poland. Kościuszko sent troops of generals A. Madalinski and J. Dąbrowski to Greater Poland. Polish partisans captured several cities and villages; the Prussians were forced to withdraw troops from Warsaw on September 6.

Austria is also sending troops to Poland. The Austrian army occupied Krakow, Sandomierz and Chelm. The Austrians stopped there. The Viennese court did not want to wage war. The Austrian government intended to secure a strong position for itself in the future division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and not to fight.


Siege of Warsaw

Capture of Vilna


Kosciuszko continued to try to save Poland. On September 10, 1794, he ordered the confiscation of all valuables in silver and gold, not only state and public, but monastic, church and private, in favor of the treasury. Gold and silver were to back the 5 percent securities issued by the provisional government.

On September 18, due to the complete failure with the “pospolitan collapse,” the militia was disbanded, increasing recruitment.

In July, Vilna besieged the 12-strong corps of Major General Knoring. The city by this time was well fortified (field fortifications were built) and reinforced with artillery. The Polish garrison, according to various sources, numbered from 2 to 9 thousand people.

After conducting reconnaissance, Knorring decided to take the city by storm. The assault was to be carried out by the detachments of Major General Count Zubov, Brigadier Beningsen and part of the detachment of General Lansky. On July 8 (19), 1794 at 9 o'clock in the morning, Russian troops in four columns moved to Vilna. For several hours there were battles for retrenchments on the heights. Russian artillery managed to suppress and force the enemy to remove their cannons from the fortifications into the city. Then at three o'clock in the afternoon Knorring ordered the infantry to attack the retrenchments in three columns. The Poles left the fortifications and managed to leave for the city, closing the gates. An attempt to break into the city was immediately repulsed.

The next day, July 9 (20), after the Poles refused to negotiate the surrender of the city, the assault continued. After a long cannonade that began at 4 in the morning, Russian troops launched an assault, but did not achieve serious success. As a result, the Polish garrison under the command of generals Grabowski and Mayen repelled the assault, losing only part of the external fortifications.

At the end of August, another Russian detachment under the command of Major General Herman approached Vilna. At dawn on August 31, Vilna was stormed.


Prince Jozef Zajonczek (1752–1826) - Polish and French general, Polish Jacobin, participant in the uprising led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Divisional General of Napoleon. After captivity, he became a confidant of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, first governor of the Kingdom of Poland (1815–1826),/size]

To be continued ...
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  1. +1
    11 June 2024 08: 06
    The Poles were lucky that at that time there was no such overseas patron as a hegemon claiming world domination. Otherwise he would have built everyone - the magnates, the gentry, and the clergy, and they would have built the peasants... And they would have fought until the last Pole! And now there would be neither Poles nor Poland...
    1. 0
      14 June 2024 12: 18
      Quote from: AllX_VahhaB
      no Poles, no Poland...

      Well, it would have been to our advantage, one less enemy, and a fierce enemy, very cruel and not timid, it didn’t happen, and now the lords are rowdy again.
  2. 0
    11 June 2024 12: 08
    Kosciuszko had to do the TCC and send everyone to the front to die. Silly ball. One thing is interesting to me: who bought the papers of the one whom everyone is destroying en masse?